It was a “minimally invasive” back surgery. She was supposed to recover at my house for 4-6 weeks -- time I was looking forward to. The last few years had been so busy, and I hadn’t made as much time for her as I should have. But because she wasn’t quite ready to navigate the few stairs at my house, the hospital released her to a skilled nursing facility to begin her physical therapy. A week at most, we thought. She was such a good patient and hard worker. We knew it would only be a week and then she would be at my house, and we would be watching movies, and talking about books, and about my kids, and anything else that we thought of. But she left us the next morning. And we still don’t know what happened.
It comes in waves, this grief does. Like, real waves that wash over and through my body and into my stomach, that punch me in the gut and stop me in my tracks. I imagine it will only get worse as the enormity of this loss settles in. Right now I am still numb, but when the numbness wears off and the full force hits me...well. I’m trying to prepare myself but don’t quite know how.
Mom always saw the best in people, even when there wasn’t a lot there to see. She always picked up the phone, even if I didn’t. She believed in me when no one else did and thought I could do anything I put my mind to. She always forgave my mistakes and my thoughtlessness. She brought lasagna to those who were sick or in mourning and rum cake to parties. She walked around in her bathing suit all summer and loved to go skinny-dipping because it was “so freeing.” She would randomly break into song and often dance her way through the house. She loved looking at the stars on summer nights. She learned computer programming and how to develop her own black and white photographs. She rode a camel in Egypt and a gondola in Venice. She visited Petra in Jordan and watched an iceberg break apart in Alaska. She read voraciously and was in at least two book clubs at any given time. I am pretty sure that she was involved in every possible organization in town at some point in her life. She loved daisies. And pickles. She always brought a bag of air-popped popcorn on road-trips. Every year, she gave up speeding for Lent. She loved a good bargain. She was the “pretty mom” who half the boys in my class had a crush on. And she was the “nice mom” that all our friends and cousins loved to be around. She would sometimes laugh so hard at our stupid jokes that she would cry. She actually enjoyed folding laundry. She never spoke unkindly about anyone. She loved Fall in the Sierras. She would help anyone who needed it, often at her own expense.
The church was packed. That’s the kind of impact she had. She was the eternal optimist, the glass half full person. She made the world a brighter, kinder place.
She left us a month ago today. How do I go on without her? I still don’t quite know. But I know she would want me to. And I know she would want me to be happy, to enjoy my life, like she enjoyed hers. To really live. To love. To learn. And she would want us all to be the light that she always was. It feels impossible right now, but for her sake, I will try.
Hello! My name is Pam Reynolds Baker and I am a mom/wife /writer and lavender farmer located in Dundee, Oregon.